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In order to achieve a greater connection between the European Union and its citizens, the EU institutions support political foundations as a model of engaging citizens in political dialogue at a European level.

In 2008, the European Commission launched a project with funding that enabled the establishment of political foundations operating at the European level. The pilot phase of this project was completed at the end of 2008 with a Regulation formalising the structure of political foundations (EC 1524/2007). The Regulation requires each foundation to have an associated European Political Party, while its funding is based, to a large extent, on the size of their respective groups in the European Parliament. Currently, 16 political foundations are operating on a formal basis at the European level.

As a result, The Green European Foundation was established in 2008 as the European-level political foundation associated with the European Green Party and the Green Group in the European Parliament. Since then, GEF has applied for an annual grant to the European Parliament to implement its work programme and has received it every year.